When, if Ever, Will Virtual Fashion Hit the Mainstream?

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Whether you have a digital wardrobe lined with designer pixels, or you have no intention of ever dropping a penny in the world of ‘virtual fashion’, there is no denying that, as more and more creatives turn their attention on graphic design as an alternative to bolts of cloth and yards of thread, social media is growing increasingly saturated with images that blur the bounds between the online and offline world.

Able to circumvent the laws of physics, wearability – and, of course, societal norms – virtual fashion designs are available for any of us to buy, photoshop onto our own bodies, and post to social media.

But, can they take off? Read more below.

Continuing to Push the Bounds of Virtualisation

If, just a decade or so ago, you’d have asked the ‘average internet user’ their opinions on the prospect of a virtual vacation, a virtual date, or even a virtual escape room, the chances are that you would have been met with surprise, if not total disbelief – and, perhaps, a pretty bemused expression.

As is emblematic of the internet, however, a lot has changed. The massive, global demographic who have shifted their monthly shopping trips onto the internet overlap considerably with, say, those who play casino games at Dunder Online Casino, or who have wiled away a weekend afternoon enjoying one of Airbnb’s online experiences. While this list may look a little miscellaneous, every example mentioned offers a paradigm for the incredible climate of digital experiences on offer to all of us, at all hours of the day.

More specifically, they all offer us the opportunity to partake in something that, in the real world, is often put out of reach by practicalities. Virtual fashion is, in reality, no different; it offers us the opportunity to ‘wear’ clothes that most of us would be incredibly unlikely to consider investing.

 

Digital Possessions Vs Experiences

While there is a similarity between virtual fashion and digital experience, the obvious difference is that the former represents an investment into something that cannot cross the boundary between the online and offline world. Games offer payouts, shopping ends in a package being mailed to our front doors – a garment crafted from pixels, and effectively photoshopped onto our bodies, belongs firmly within the digital realm.

The phenomenon can be compared with non-fungible tokens. NFTs are rapidly growing in popularity, by virtue of their ability to play with our understanding of digital files, and to make something unique within a landscape governed by copy and paste, duplication and reduplication.

Of course, virtual fashion is not trying to make unique garments. NFTs may well be something the luxury brands explore more in the coming months, but they do not represent the sum total of what early adopters of the trend are trying to achieve.

This is, possibly, where the phenomenon will be forced to go. For, at this stage, the more ‘off the rack’ virtual fashion offerings – those that are fungible – offer little more than the opportunity for us to wear what everyone else is wearing, just in a different medium, and without needing to deal with the impracticalities of dressing according to 21st century fashions.